The weather has taken a marked turn for the better over the past few days and we now seem to be in a run of cold, dry and fairly bright conditions. The river is running well despite the recent lack of precipitation and I got some very encouraging results from the invert check at New Inn yesterday and Turn Dub this morning. All families that I look for were well represented at Turn Dub and just the caddis were, once again, disappointing at New Inn.
It's the first time I have been up to the Dub since the turn of the year, but nothing much seems to change. As I walked down the Tarn past the flooded shakehole I was startled by a fairly loud explosion which stopped me dead. For an instant I was at a loss as to what had caused the noise, but concluded that the surface ice on the hole was under such tension that the mere vibration of my size 10's in passing had released the tension causing the surface to shatter.
The three swans are still present and sculling around in the water kept open by the upwelling of the spring that feeds that Tarn.
The weather here has transformed over the past few days from the persistent wet and stormy conditions of December to clear and frosty and we have the first sight of the sun since at least early December. The river is still moderately high, but falling quickly and conditions should be perfect for an invert check early this week.
last Saturday I put in the Section 30 application for this season's restocking of the Tarn. Turn round usually takes six weeks as the presence of native crayfish means that our application is subject to reference to Natural England. I was stunned when I turned the computer on on Monday to find that the S30 had been consented. I all the ten years that I have been keeper here I have never had a consent back that quickly. So, all is set now for the first restocking on 5 March.
Last week I was given a copy of an article written by Bill Mitchell who has chronicled the history of the Dales over a lifetime spent as a journalist and writer. This article describes the salmon hatchery that was set up at Langcliffe by the Lancashire River Authority some years ago. I had no idea just how extensive this operation was. At its height they were taking eggs from over 150 salmon each year and producing eight thousand swim up fry per hatchery tank. From the photo accompanying the article there seem to be at least 20 tanks in the hatching house. Twenty thousand fry were taken each year to the Lune and the rest put into the Ribble from Selside downstream. That really is industrial strength restocking!
Here's hoping that this settled weather lasts a bit.
For the first time in many days we awake to no rain and no wind. It's still grey and gloomy and one of those miserable January mornings that seem to sap the enthusiasm for anything. But not to have a storm raging is very pleasant.
I was up at the Tarn early to check for damage after the recent gales. All was well and the resident waterfowl seemed in lighter spirits than last week. The three swans are still present. The cygnet is now whiter that before Christmas and it won't be long before it get encouragement from the cob to go off and make its own way in the world.
I spent some time down at the duck wall watching for any sign of brownies spawning, but saw nothing. There are one or two patches of disturbed substrate although the bed here is very bouldery with very little gravel suitable for redd forming.
It might be worth putting a ton or two of gravel on the Tarn side of the wall later in the year to provide suitable breeding habitat, but I would like more evidence that some spawning activity is occurring before trying to interfere.
All the stock fish for the Tarn have now been ordered and the S30 application sent to the EA. We will put the first batch in on 5 March so that they can settle well before the start of the season. This early stocking will comprise both rainbow and brown trout and be followed by successive stockings in May, July and August. The latter will also include a number of brown trout which we hope will over winter and grow on.
A happy New Year to you all and here's hoping for a better fishing year than 2011. The past week has been a total washout with rain falling every day since the middle of December. The river has been just off spate for days on end now and it will be interesting to see later this season what impact all this water has had on our resident brownies.
I have mentioned frequently the plans that RCCT have for placing large woody debris in the river above the confluence of Gayle and Cam becks. The river seems to be doing its own LWD placement at present as a visit to the Settle weir webcam will show. There is a fairly hefty tree wedged on the weir boards that the floods have brought down from somewhere. It just goes to prove that anything we place in the river has a propensity to make its way to Lytham. I put a fly board into the feeder beck at Turn Dub a few years ago. Despite being anchored to a steel post with high tensile wire this vanished during a flood and was found 12 months later in a garden at Helwith Bridge.
When I was recovering from a broken leg back in 2007 I was lent a delightful little book entitled “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen” by Paul Torday. I see that this has been made into a film starring Ewan McGregor and is scheduled for release this year. If it follows the story in the book it should be worth a watch.